On humility and humor

by Elder Sophrony of Essex

When one approached the Elder, one felt that he had a very deep humility, a humility which was not a result of ascetic effort per se, effort to seem humble, but was an alteration and transfiguration of his being. He himself often repeated the words of Saint Siluan, who said, too, that ascetic humility is one thing and the humility of Christ, declared with the transfiguration and theosis of one’s whole being, is another. For the reason, you saw the Elder Sophrony also in moments when he engaged in humor, because his humor was very well-aimed, very fine.


That is, when one met him, one could not understand with the external criteria of moral deontology that he was a saint. He himself was uncomfortable when he felt that someone approached him with the feeling that he was a saint. He made his humor. He said his jokes. He told various stories. He created a very pleasant atmosphere, but simultaneously you saw a depth. He did not have that humor which offends you, I would say, or in any way creates a scattered, confused condition, a pouring out, an amusement of the intellect. Rather, even his jokes had great depth. And finally, in all moments when one approached the Elder – even when God granted one to walk with him, to converse, to laugh together – one understood that all came out of a soul and heart of a man wholly transfigured. For this reason, even his fine humor and jokes touched one personally.

(Source: http://www.oodegr.com/english/psyxotherap/on_humility_and_humour.htm)

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